By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
No other smart watch manufacturer has risked more to create and iterate new features and functionality than Samsung. Since it introduced the Galaxy Gear years ago it has gone from supporting Google android Wear to it's proprietary Tizen OS. Through the years, Gears have had cameras, 4G-LTE capability, sports features as well as its own app store.
Yet, for the most part, the Samsung Gear family has been limited mostly to work with certain Samsung models, just recently however, they have been made compatible with other Android smartphones and, more surprisingly, they can now work with iPhones.
Any smart watch manufacturer that wants to really compete in this market needs to aim for ubiquity, and while there's a lull in Android Wear devices (something that's going to change after Febuary 9, when Android Wear 2.0 launches alongside two LG watches), is a timely model to put out there.
For one thing, the Gear S3 Frontier looks like a sportswatch, it has rugged good looks and feels like a solid and durable mechanical watch. Apple changed the game with the Apple Watch mostly because it created the Digital Crown, which can be pressed and turned to access various digital features.
Samsung has been able to take the bezel of the Gear S3 Frontier and turn it into a new interface to cycle through different features and apps.
I paired the Gear S3 Frontier to my iPhone 7, mostly to check out how it worked with Apple ecosystem. As expected, you don't get all the features and functionality you would on Android but it still works.
I got a lot of comments about the Gear S3 Frontier, it can easily pass off for a high-end timepiece and it feels as solid as it looks. The large 1.33-inch Super AMOLED display may not suit most people, but its rugged good looks appeal to a lot of guys who like beefy watches. The ladies will likely squirm at the sight and the weight of this smartwatch, but it seems Samsung has commited and stuck to a formula it believes in.
In terms of specs, the Gear S3 Frontier has the following under the hood, a heart rate sensors, 1GHz dual-core Exynos processor, 768MB of RAM, IP68 waterproofing, 4GB of internal storage for audio and MST (magnetic secure transmission) chip for Samsung Pay transactions, which is lost on Canadians, since we don't support that mobile payment's platform here.
The Gear S3 Frontier stands out in many ways. Samsung has managed to create a cohesive ecosystem, useful functionality and a good looking, although masculine, smart watch. If you're a Samsung smartphone user, the Gear S3 Frontier will be a good companion to your Galaxy or Note. Android users, likewise, will get a good experience, better than Android Wear in some fronts, but expect to jump through some hoops and download more apps to get things to work. iPhone users, that's a bit of a stretch, while it will work and synch, functionality is stunted.
Battery life is above average for a multi-functional smart watch and, after a week of use, I found that the Gear S3 Frontier could last a day and a half on a full-charge, not shabby at all for a smart watch that also features a GPS and a heart rate monitor.
Samsung has really stepped up their smart watch game with the Gear S3 Frontier, which is a good option for active users. Here's hoping some of the cross-platform features and functionality continue to gain parity with what Samsung smartphone users now enjoy.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5